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Mars Planet

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Planet Mars Facts:

Number of Satellites: 2 (Phobos and Deimos)
Rotation Period: 24 hours and 37 minutes

Temperature: -140 to 20 degrees celsius (-220 to 60 fahrenheit)

Length of Year: About 1 Earth-year and ten and a half months (687 days)

Diameter: 6796 Kms (4223 Miles)

Axial Tilt: 25.19 degrees
Atmosphere: Mainly Carbon Dioxide

Mars Surface

Mars is a terrestrial planet. It has a hard rocky surface that you could walk on. Mars' surface is dry and much of it is covered with a reddish dust and rocks. Mars has two permanent polar ice caps.

Mars Atmosphere

The Martian atmosphere consists of carbon dioxide (95 percent), nitrogen (2.7 percent), argon (1.6 percent), oxygen (0.2 percent) and trace amounts of water vapor and carbon monoxide.

Mars Gravity

The surface gravity on Mars is only about 38% of the surface gravity on Earth. If you weigh 100 pounds on Earth then you would weigh only 38 pounds on Mars.

Mars Moons:

Mars has two moons and their names are Deimos and Phobos.

Nasa's Mars Robotic Exploration:

Mars was explored in flybys by Mariner 4, 6 and 7 in the 1960s and by the orbiting Mariner 9 in 1971 before NASA mounted the ambitious Viking mission, which launched two orbiters and two landers to the planet in 1975. The landers found no chemical evidence of life. Mars Pathfinder landed on the planet on July 4, 1997, delivering a mobile robot rover that explored the immediate vicinity. Mars Global Surveyor is creating the highest-resolution map of the planets surface.

Russia/Soviets Mars Robotic Exploration:

Started in the 1960's with the Mars Program. The last endeavour by Russia was Mars 96.

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, having surface features reminiscent both of the impact craters of the Moon and the volcanoes, valleys, deserts, and polar ice caps of Earth. The rotational period and seasonal cycles of Mars are likewise similar to those of Earth, as is the tilt that produces the seasons. Mars is the site of Olympus Mons, the highest known mountain within the Solar System, and of Valles Marineris, the largest canyon. The smooth Borealis basin in the northern hemisphere covers 40% of the planet and may be a giant impact feature.
Until the first successful flyby of Mars occurred in 1965, by Mariner 4, many speculated about the presence of liquid water on the planet's surface. This was based on observed periodic variations in light and dark patches, particularly in the polar latitudes, which appeared to be seas and continents; long, dark striations were interpreted by some as irrigation channels for liquid water. These straight line features were later explained as optical illusions, though geological evidence gathered by unmanned missions suggest that Mars once had large-scale water coverage on its surface. In 2005, radar data revealed the presence of large quantities of water ice at the poles, and at mid-latitudes. The Mars rover Spirit sampled chemical compounds containing water molecules in March 2007. The Phoenix lander directly sampled water ice in shallow Martian soil on July 31, 2008.Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are small and irregularly shaped. These may be captured asteroids, similar to 5261 Eureka, a Martian trojan asteroid. Mars is currently host to three functional orbiting spacecraft: Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. On the surface are the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity and its recently decommissioned twin, Spirit, along with several other inert landers and rovers, both successful and unsuccessful. The Phoenix lander completed its mission on the surface in 2008. Observations by NASA's now-defunct Mars Global Surveyor show evidence that parts of the southern polar ice cap have been receding. Observations by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed possible flowing water during the warmest months on Mars.
Mars can easily be seen from Earth with the naked eye. Its apparent magnitude reaches −3.0 a brightness surpassed only by Jupiter, Venus, the Moon, and the Sun. Optical ground based telescopes are typically limited to resolving features about 300 km (186 miles) across when Earth and Mars are closest, because of Earth's atmosphere.

mars planet

Mars Orbit and rotation

Mars’ average distance from the Sun is roughly 230 million km (1.5 AU) and its orbital period is 687 (Earth) days. The solar day (or sol) on Mars is only slightly longer than an Earth day: 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35.244 seconds. A Martian year is equal to 1.8809 Earth years, or 1 year, 320 days, and 18.2 hours.
The axial tilt of Mars is 25.19 degrees, which is similar to the axial tilt of the Earth. As a result, Mars has seasons like the Earth, though on Mars they are nearly twice as long given its longer year. Currently the orientation of the north pole of Mars is close to the star Deneb. Mars passed its perihelion in April 2009 and its aphelion in March 2010. The next perihelion comes in March 2011 and the next aphelion in February 2012.
Mars has a relatively pronounced orbital eccentricity of about 0.09; of the seven other planets in the Solar System, only Mercury shows greater eccentricity. It is known that in the past Mars has had a much more circular orbit than it does currently. At one point 1.35 million Earth years ago, Mars had an eccentricity of roughly 0.002, much less than that of Earth today. The Mars cycle of eccentricity is 96,000 Earth years compared to the Earth's cycle of 100,000 years. Mars also has a much longer cycle of eccentricity with a period of 2.2 million Earth years, and this overshadows the 96,000-year cycle in the eccentricity graphs. For the last 35,000 years the orbit of Mars has been getting slightly more eccentric because of the gravitational effects of the other planets. The closest distance between the Earth and Mars will continue to mildly decrease for the next 25,000 years.

Search for life

The current understanding of planetary habitability—the ability of a world to develop and sustain life—favors planets that have liquid water on their surface. This most often requires that the orbit of a planet lie within the habitable zone, which for the Sun currently extends from just beyond Venus to about the semi-major axis of Mars. During perihelion Mars dips inside this region, but the planet's thin (low-pressure) atmosphere prevents liquid water from existing over large regions for extended periods. The past flow of liquid water demonstrates the planet's potential for habitability. Some recent evidence has suggested that any water on the Martian surface may have been too salty and acidic to support regular terrestrial life.
The lack of a magnetosphere and extremely thin atmosphere of Mars are a challenge: the planet has little heat transfer across its surface, poor insulation against bombardment of the solar wind and insufficient atmospheric pressure to retain water in a liquid form (water instead sublimates to a gaseous state). Mars is also nearly, or perhaps totally, geologically dead; the end of volcanic activity has apparently stopped the recycling of chemicals and minerals between the surface and interior of the planet.
Evidence suggests that the planet was once significantly more habitable than it is today, but whether living organisms ever existed there remains unknown. The Viking probes of the mid-1970s carried experiments designed to detect microorganisms in Martian soil at their respective landing sites and had positive results, including a temporary increase of CO2 production on exposure to water and nutrients. This sign of life was later disputed by some scientists, resulting in a continuing debate, with NASA scientist Gilbert Levin asserting that Viking may have found life. A re-analysis of the Viking data, in light of modern knowledge of extremophile forms of life, has suggested that the Viking tests were not sophisticated enough to detect these forms of life. The tests could even have killed a (hypothetical) life form.Tests conducted by the Phoenix Mars lander have shown that the soil has a very alkaline pH and it contains magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride. The soil nutrients may be able to support life but life would still have to be shielded from the intense ultraviolet light.
At the Johnson Space Center lab, some fascinating shapes have been found in the meteorite ALH84001, which is thought to have originated from Mars. Some scientists propose that these geometric shapes could be fossilized microbes extant on Mars before the meteorite was blasted into space by a meteor strike and sent on a 15 million-year voyage to Earth. An exclusively inorganic origin for the shapes has also been proposed.
Small quantities of methane and formaldehyde recently detected by Mars orbiters are both claimed to be hints for life, as these chemical compounds would quickly break down in the Martian atmosphere.It is remotely possible that these compounds may instead be replenished by volcanic or geological means such as serpentinization.